Marc-André Fleury made history by shutting out his 28th NHL team, more than any goaltender in league history, as the Minnesota Wild beat the Seattle Kraken 1-0 on Friday night.
Fleury was fantastic in the 28-save shutout, avenging the 4-0 shutout loss he incurred against the Kraken last week. Mats Zuccarello scored the only goal of the game late in the first period against an impressive Martin Jones, who was very nearly Fleury’s equal on the night with a great performance of his own.
The Wild got a good chance in the opening minute via Kirill Kaprizov, but heading to the penalty kill straight afterwards as Jared Spurgeon went to the box for a tripping call. Seattle looked good on the power play and got a few good chances after the man advantage expired, but all of the Kraken’s early looks were turned aside by Fleury, who got the nod to start in Seattle despite a fantastic performance from Filip Gustavsson on Wednesday night against the Ducks.
Adam Beckman, who had a good but quiet night in Anaheim, looked like he’d have a chance to make a statement early but was knocked off the puck by Will Borgen.
The Wild got a power play opportunity of their own halfway through the first period, but their best chance was a Mats Zuccarello shot in close that was handled by Martin Jones. Just like Wednesday’s game, this one got chippy early, with Zuccarello getting into a shoving match with Yanni Gourde behind the play. The Wild didn’t convert on the power play opportunity, and a spell of Kraken offensive pressure later in the period forced a Calen Addison hook and sending Minnesota back to the penalty kill.
Jared McCann rang a shot off the post behind Fleury early on, but that would be Seattle’s best chance of the power play as the Wild killed the rest of the penalty without much difficulty.
It looked like the Wild would head to the first intermission tied at zero once again, but late in the period, the hockey gods gave a gift to Zuccarello not unlike the one Joseph Cramarossa received on Wednesday. Jon Merrill, likely just trying to keep the puck alive in the offensive zone, threw the puck past Addison and off the side boards, where it drifted past Jordan Eberle and Freddy Gaudreau to find Zuccarello all alone in the slot, who fired home his sixth of the year to give the Wild a 1-0 lead.
Wild find the back of the net first.— Alison (@AlisonL) November 12, 2022
Zuccarello beats Jones from the slot. pic.twitter.com/AMnj2WjTcV
Wow, first the goalless streak ends, and now a first period lead? The Wild are so back.
With seconds remaining in the frame, Matt Dumba took Minnesota’s third penalty of the game to give Seattle a power-play opportunity to start the second period. But when the teams came back from intermission, the best chance of the Seattle man advantage came from Minnesota, with Mason Shaw and Connor Dewar nearly connecting for a shorthanded goal. Like the first two kills, the Wild were impenetrable defensively, not allowing a single shot to get through to Fleury in goal.
The Kraken continued to put the pressure on early in the second, outshooting the Wild and getting plenty of quality chances, but Fleury was equal to all of them. Midway through the period, Zuccarello was tripped up by Justin Schultz but still managed to feed Kaprizov for a golden opportunity that was somehow thwarted by Martin Jones, who is apparently good again.
Martin Jones with a huge save on Kirill Kaprizov to keep the Kraken within 1.— Emerald City Hockey (@EmeraldCityHky) November 12, 2022
Cliché time: remember this one if the Kraken come back and tie it. pic.twitter.com/zmUaiHOa4Y
Schultz went to the box and the Wild went back to the power play, but they didn’t manage to get much going with the man advantage. When the penalty expired, Minnesota enjoyed a small spell of pressure that drew another penalty call, but the subsequent power play was even less effective, with zero shots and no real prolonged zone time. Once again the Wild looked better coming out of the power play than they did during it, but couldn’t manage to turn the pressure into another goal, and the horn sounded for the second intermission with the Wild holding onto their 1-0 lead.
Minnesota started the third period the same way they’d started the first: by immediately going to the penalty kill. This kill wasn’t quite as rock-solid as their first three, but they again managed to deny the Kraken from registering even a single shot on the power play. They even got a shorthanded breakaway chance courtesy of Mason Shaw that was stopped by Jones.
Mason Shaw gets the shorthanded breakaway but is stopped pic.twitter.com/9kIUl1QK8e— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) November 12, 2022
Once again, Seattle had plenty of good shooting opportunities early in the period and once again, Fleury was equal to every single one. Unlike the previous two periods, Seattle kept the pressure up for pretty much the entire 20 minutes, leading in shots and making Fleury work hard to keep the Wild in front. But this was Fleury’s night. With the clock ticking and Seattle’s net empty, Oliver Bjorkstrand made a nice move to get the Kraken into position, but Fleury stood tall and denied a huge chance right at the horn to secure the win. (Where have I seen that before?)
The Marc-André Fleury we all know and love has arrived—enjoy the ride.
The Wild return home on Sunday to face the San Jose Sharks.
Can the Wild get some more powerplay goals tonight?
Uh, nope. The Wild had no trouble drawing penalties, but the Minnesota power play, which looked excellent in Anaheim, couldn’t seem to solve a basement-tier penalty kill. Luckily they only ended up needing the one goal thanks to Fleury’s fantastic performance, but a bit more run support would have been nice.
Will that second line do well?
Beckman had a decent chance early in the first, and Boldy and Eriksson-Ek looked good in spots (but their best chances came on the power play). But when the offensive threat wasn’t coming from the first line, it was mainly coming from the Rossi line in this game. I’m not ready to say this second line doesn’t work yet, but I’ll need to see more from them on Sunday if Evason keeps them together.